What is FOMO?

What is FOMO? Sure the acronym stands for Fear Of Missing Out but to answer the question solely is akin to dissection in a 9th grade biology class; it means nothing. To truly understand the FOMO meaning, one has to feel it. Be burned by it. Be saddened by it. Be laid bare in a lab chock full of Mac Posner types who think they are cooler than you. Unlucky for you and the rest of us, the FOMO meaning has devolved to something far worse.

The FOMO of today is to no longer simply the fear missing of out on an event or social gathering. The FOMO of today is to devalue what is happening in your life to the point where you feel the need to pump up (any) cool things you do, thus proving how cool you are and in turn making other feel the same way you don’t want too. It’s a vicious cycle. Simply put, everyone wants to feel wanted. The cooler your life is, or at least seems to be, the more likely you are to be desired i.e. invited to things. The social version of you and everyone you know IS cool because it is the wedding reception slide show of your life, only highlights make the cut. Show that you live well and win at life you shall, right?

“You should know I disagree with a lot of traditional advice. For instance, they say the best revenge is living well. I say it’s acid in the face—who will love them now?”
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Blame the digital age. The rise of the digital age has led to the ability to share information instantaneously and mankind is (probably) better of as a result. Computerized information flows freely and easily across digital airwaves that connects people across the world at an instant. How wonderful. The ease with which sharing information is possible has thusly impacted the need to access said information. The need for proximity has given way to connectivity where social sharing is not just the norm but the expected, hence FOMO.

The problem with connectivity is that to stay connected, you must share information. To be an equal parts player, you must engage in the activity of others while also “publishing” content that is worth of being engaged with. If your Facebook friend acquaintance goes on an epic trip to <insert name of tropical island>, it is your duty to show how jealous you aren’t by engaging with over-the-top niceties. It makes you feel better and more connected, but now shouldn’t you post something cool of your how own. Perhaps that sunset pic…

Post photo of sunset, get 5 likes. {winning}
Post better photo of sunset, get 10 likes and 2 shares. {on fire!}
New Post, gets……no……likes (!?!). {delete post before anyone notices, phew}
RePost couples pic from last year, get 25 new likes and fresh 5 comments. {rinse, wash, repeat!!!}

All social posters engage in this kind of activity because it is normal. Like listening to music on Spotify or watching your favorite show while playing Candy Crush on your phone, it is the new norm. But this isn’t built of out FOMO. It is ingrained in anyone with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Vine, Tumblr, Ello, Linkedin etc. accounts to post attractive and engaging information. If you choose not to post, you are subject to the many posts of others and if you don’t reciprocate, you miss out. and others won’t have the fear of missing out (FOMO FOMO FOMO FOMO!!!!!!) on your amazeballs life.

So, what can be done? Truthfully, aside from going tribal like Mercer in The Circle, you participate. This doesn’t mean trying to trump the posts of others or brag before-during-after an exciting trip or reposting old events posts like some social historian. No. Just be yourself. Post what you want friends, like actual friend friends, to see so they can engage with your actual life. And whatever you do, don’t miss out on actual real life moments in order to capture the perfect Instagram photo. Missing out on your own life moments isn’t worth it so don’t FOMO yourself!

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